[Op-Ed] It’s been nearly two weeks since Donald Trump was elected the next President of America. Some insist he can make this country great again while others think we’re headed for disaster.
Through an amazing case of coincidence, similar fear has been expressed on multiple TV series. The Walking Dead features a new kind of charming tyranny in the form of Negan, who uses wit and a bat wrapped in barbed wire to destroy the authority Rick Grimes used to have. At one point, a couple of people blame Rick for Negan’s rise.
Meanwhile, the town of Salem is terrorized by a ten year old version of Satan, who his mother Mary Sibley and the other Essex witches created because they thought he’d hand the town over to them. Once he decided he won’t, the witches want Mary to destroy him, which is much easier said than done. The show even adds a subplot about “refugees” and whether they should be trusted. Sebastian, who’s allied Li’l Satan, is exploiting this situation in their hopes to create Hell on Earth.
The fear of “The Other” shows up on Agents of SHIELD. Jeffrey Mace, the newest Director of SHIELD, doesn’t trust Inhumans including ex-agent Daisy Johnson, even though he’s an Inhuman. He has the support (blackmail?) of Senator Ellen Nadeer, who doesn’t like Inhumans either. No one other than the viewers know her brother experienced terregenesis and wound up as a statue. Nadeer gave help to the Watchdogs, who also don’t like Inhumans. Chances are she may exploit the public’s fear of Inhumans for her own political gains or get rid of them altogether if she gets her hands on the Darkhold.
The exploitation of fear is also familiar to fans of Angel.…….
Back in October 2000, Angel turned his attention to a long-closed building called the Hyperion Hotel in “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?”. Less than 50 years before he was a tenant there. Other residents at the time included a closeted movie star, a blacklisted scriptwriter, and a Thesulac demon (Tony Amendola) that feasted on fear and paranoia. It whispers words of a victim’s deepest fears, and feeds from the fear.
The demon targets a bank teller from Kansas (Melissa Marsala) who lost her job because she was passing for white and embezzled money out of anger. The demon exploits that fear to get her to accuse Angel of killing someone, and everyone at the hotel to literally lynch Angel. After he’s hung, everyone wonders what made them do that.
When the demon appears, he’s sated from the paranoia feast. “They feed me the worst,” it says, “and I kind of serve it right back at them, and the fear and prejudice leads to certainty and hate.”
It’s interesting this was Tim Minear’s first script for the Angel series, who has gone on to great success with American Horror Story (now in it’s 6th season). Minear’s DVD commentary for the episode revealed it was actually a combination of film noir tropes including one from Chinatown. After 16 years, maybe it’s changed into something else.
Who, or what, do we compare the Thesulac demon to? Would it be the partisan news stories in social media (many now to have been confirmed as fake to make money off hits?) that may have determined our next president? Is it a failed media who thought concentrating on personality rather than issues is better for business, since there’s not enough profit in actually educating voters on their choices?
Could Donald Trump be a Thesulac demon, in a way? While the demon used whispered voices to exploit inner fears, Trump’s words were much louder because they were heard on TV or read in social media. They had their effect whether it’s calling Hillary Clinton crooked or corrupt, claiming immigrants are criminals, Muslims are ISIS in disguise, accusing Obamacare and regulations for killing the economy, or arguing a wall will keep us safe. All of these claims exploited our fears and confirmed our biases. Once we find out we may have been fooled, just like those tenants in the Hyperion in 1952, will we have the courage to admit it?
The Hyperion residents didn’t, and neither did Angel. It weighed on him for 50 years (“There’s an entire hotel here just full of tortured souls that could use your help.” Angel replies, “Take them all.”) until Angel Investigations finally destroyed the demon and took over the hotel. According to Minear Angel also returned the embezzled money.
The future President Trump may not exactly be a Thesulac demon, but some may wonder if his supporters and future staffers could be the next best thing. Could they whisper words of fear and paranoia to satisfy a different kind of hunger, where biases must be fed rather than bellies?